The Essential Culture Podcast Network (ECPN) is a podcast-based media platform for Northeast Florida. Through strategic collaborations with Jacksonville based media institutions, our network provides a series of cultural programs available to be downloaded on multiple streaming platforms. Listeners can subscribe to shows dedicated to subjects centered around business, advocacy, entertainment, and the arts. ECPN hosts invite local and national experts to explore topics and ideas that catalyze, educate, and enlighten audiences.
If the question is, “Who do we want to talk to?” The answer is always: the makers, doers, and thinkers in a community. When that metropolis is located ideologically and geographically on the edge of the Southeastern seaboard, the result is fascinating, quirky, personal and local with national implications. Thus, what we do is how we do: we tell the stories of our people, to our people. ECPN initially was developed as a response to the Northeast Florida community’s extraordinary creative and entrepreneurial communities; ECPN is host-driven and curiosity floated. With 6 individual shows, the depth and breadth of the region is reflected, highlighted, and chewed up. In our first year, we counted Andrew Gillum, Carlos Rolon, Diana Haggag, Jonah Bokar, Dr. Alfredo Quinoñes- Hinojosa, and Dr. Aynna Hudson among our guests.
ECPN is the natural response to co-founders JaMario Stills, Heather Moore, and Tim Driscoll’s desire to elevate the art and innovation happening here. Too, the network is a response to the current media landscape, which, while specific to NEFLa (attrition and downsizing), also addresses changes to the way we consume and process information.
People are always moving and in transition, this way, the listener can on-demand—topic and time—pick up with their locale, or, dip into a region they might not know too much about, finding episodes on Soundcloud, iTunes, and Stitcher. It’s a way to empower the audience to leverage their own skills and interests while also showcasing this region.
Now would be a good time to talk about our people: Stills, Moore, and Driscoll think about the hosts in terms of influence and dedication. Because hosting a show is a semi-public intellectual space, they understood that the individuals selected had to have an awareness of that responsibility, a social consciousness.
Our hosts are recognized and lauded professionals: Shawana Brooks is a curator and poet; Allison Galloway Gonzalez is an arts leader and educator; Dustin Harewood is an artist and professor; Toni Hernandez is an entrepreneur and culture engineer, Rachel Roberts is a writer and entrepreneur; and Madeleine Peck Wagner is an artist and writer. In terms of growth, we think of ourselves in a seedling stage: We recorded our first podcast in April 2018, it was “Shawana’s Salon” with artist Erin Kendrick who said, “We can go on and on about what didn’t happen before, or we can just do it.”
Looking forward: ECPN Radio is the future. Currently, we have a partnership with WJCT, 89.9 FM, a radio program where the podcasts are formatted to highlight significant portions of interviews. This is itself hosted by Tim Driscoll who acts—to a certain extent—as a cultural sherpa that is to say our contextual guide. Our plan is to expand the accessibility and availability via live shows and events, and with the combination of engaging content and portable media, we will serve as an essential media platform for the Southeast region. We aim to gain national syndication in the years to come. As we like to say, “The dopeness is hear.”